In 2013, the St. Louis Rams were one of the most up and down teams in the NFL, plagued by injuries on the offensive side of the football and inconsistency in the defensive side. For short bursts, the Rams looked like an unstoppable force, averaging 40.0 points per game versus the Bears and Colts. At other points, St. Louis resembled many of their former squads from the past decade, getting railroaded by the Cowboys and 49ers early in the season, and finished the year losing three of their last five games. Heading into the 2014 season, the Rams will undoubtedly be looking for more consistency in all three phases of the game. With the addition of a handful of new, young pieces, some key players returning from injury, and a “true” defensive coordinator calling in the plays to James Laurinaitis, can St. Louis usurp their numbers from last season? To answer that, we’ll play a game of Over/Under, listing off a handful of the team’s 2013 totals and debating if the 2014 St. Louis Rams can surpass them…
Total Offensive Yards: Over/Under 4,877 yards
Without some context, that number likely holds very little weight. The St. Louis Rams ranked 30th last season in total offensive yards, beating out only the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the category. However, those numbers were compiled in a “limited” offensive scheme, with Kellen Clemens manning the helm for over half of the regular season. Moreover, it took Brian Schottenheimer and the St. Louis Rams offensive until Week 5 to lock-in on a sustainable offensive philosophy, something that will certainly not repeat itself in the 2014 season. Oh yea, and Sam Bradford is coming back…
Points Per Game: 21.8
Much like the total yards number, the St. Louis Rams 2013 offense was marred by the loss of their No.1 signal caller in the backfield. With Bradford on the sideline, Jeff Fisher opted for playing low-scoring, clock-draining football, hoping that his defense would be able to contain opposing offenses enough to secure the win. In some cases, that plan was successful, with the defense stone-walling opponents and setting up easy scoring opportunities for Kellen Clemens and Co. Other times they were not so successful, heaping the load back onto the Rams offense, which rarely answered the call. With Bradford back in tow, a bolstered offensive line, and some added experience in the receiving corps, it would be hard to imagine the Rams finishing the in Bottom 15 in the league in 2014.
Last season, the St. Louis Rams barely ranked inside the Top 10 in total takeaways, despite leading the league in forced fumbles. Some ineptitude in defensive playcalling and inexperience in the secondary were the likely causes for the horrifically-low interception totals in 2013, but both of those issues should be fixed headed into the upcoming season. While the Rams may see a slight drop in their fumble numbers, Gregg Williams aggressive style should create more opportunities in the secondary for interceptions. Moreover, with the return of T.J. McDonald, the addition of a myriad of new cornerback talent, and an extra year of experience for both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, there is no reason not to expect more picks next season.
At the end of the day, the only “statistic” that truly matters is wins and losses. Last season, the St. Louis Rams miraculously managed seven wins on the season, including four while Kellen Clemens was the starting quarterback. Using the previous year as a marker for opponents’ strength is always a risky endeavor However, in light of that reality, the 2014 schedule does show some promise…
The Rams will open up the season with three “winnable” games against the Vikings, Buccaneers, and Cowboys. After the bye, they’ll have three more games against sub-.500 squads from last season (Giants, Raiders and Redskins), as well as two games against teams that struggled mightily against elite pass rushing defenses (Chiefs and Broncos). St. Louis will also finish the season with three of their final five games at home. With seven to nine, arguably, winnable non-conference games and a favorable travel schedule towards the end of the regular season, it would not be surprising to see the St. Louis Rams eclipse the .500 mark for the first time in the Bradford era.
Tags: St. Louis Rams